INVASIVE SPECIES: Tree-infesting beetle found in Riverside
The polyphagous shot hole borer, an invasive species from Asia, attacks more than 40 different kinds of trees. There is no known way to treat the pest.
UCR researcher Akif Eskalen has been monitoring the riverbed near Martha McLean-Anza Narrows Park. Six months ago, he said, there was no visible sign of the tiny intruder. There is still no sign of the beetle itself, but two weeks ago, Eskalen found willow and cottonwood trees peppered with the holes the borer makes as it eats its way into trees.
“Look at this,” Eskalen said, pointing to a tree trunk with dark tear-drop spots on it, “willow, willow, willow, all infested. This is a forest and almost all of them are infested. We have a very big problem and this problem is spreading very fast.”
Eskalen, a plant pathology professor, said the riparian habitat along the river is serving as a corridor through which the beetle is entering the Riverside area.
“I knew this was a vulnerable area,” he said. “I knew the southern part of the river was infested in Orange County.”
How fast that infestation will move is unknown. Scientists are still in the dark about much of the beetle’s habits since it lives out of sight nearly its entirely life. In fact, generations of beetles breed inside the trees they inhabit, never seeing the light of day.
But the scope of the infestation is troubling to Eskalen.
In the Tijuana River Valley, near San Diego, he said, the beetle is estimated to have attacked 140,000 trees, 500 of which have died. A similar scenario is possible here, he said.
The sesame-seed-sized beetle doesn’t actually kill the host tree itself, its food does. When the beetle bores into the heart of the tree, it brings its lunch with it. On its body is the Fusarium fungus, and possibly two other fungi. The fungi grow inside the tree, serving as a food source for the bug, but also, eventually, cutting off the tree’s water transport system and killing the tree. The process takes two to three years.
Eskalen said the challenge in combating the beetle is getting to it. Topical chemicals won’t reach the pests inside and, as of yet, no systemic pesticides – which can either be injected or taken up by the roots – have been approved. One such chemical is close to being approved for the market, Eskalen said, but it is specific to avocado trees.
Avocado trees are a favorite of the beetle. It was the infestation of avocado groves that first alerted scientists and pest-management experts in 2012 when the bug was first reported in California.
“As soon as I found this, I went to the Avocado Commission,” Eskalen said, seeking funding to face down the threat. “Since then, we have been chasing this beetle. Every week we’re learning something new about it.”
That includes what it likes to eat, how far it will fly and what might slow it down. While Eskalen and his fellow researchers – UCR entomologist Richard Stouthamer and UC Santa Cruz grad student Shannon Lynch – have found some promising pesticides, he believes fighting the beetle with biological controls is the only effective way to handle it.
The pest has also been found in De Anza Park in Ontario.
“This beetle is not going anywhere,” he said. “From now on we are going to have live with (it). We cannot eradicate this beetle.”
Eskalen said he and Stouthamer began field-testing a biological agent two weeks ago, a bacteria that kills the Fusarium fungus. The two men will make their fifth trip to Asia this week, visiting Taiwan where they are working with forest service scientists to identify other possible biological controls. So far, a wasp that attacks the beetle has been identified, but it has not been approved for release into the Southern California environment.
Already, the beetle is going beyond the river area. Eskalen pointed out several sycamore trees in the park that were littered with pockmarks from the beetle. He’s seeking more funding to continue trying to find a solution.
“This is a threat throughout Southern California,” he said. “We need to do more research.”
What To Do
If you suspect one of your trees may have been attacked by the polyphagous shot hole borer, here’s what you can do:
On the web: Go to eskalenlab.ucr.edu and click on the tab for the bug.
If symptoms match: Take a clean knife and peel the bark away from one of the holes, exposing the hole. Place a ball point pen’s tip near the hole for reference and take a photo.
Contact researchers: Send the photo to UCR researcher Akif Eskalen’s lab. If it looks like a shot hole borer attack, the lab will contact you
One More Disadvantage of Buying a House: Longer Commutes
From Citylab 3/11/16
Prospective homeowners might want to consider the additional time they’d spend getting to and from work.
The time Americans spend commuting each day is getting longer, up from less than 44 minutes a day three decades ago to right around 52 minutes today. Add these numbers up and the average commuter spends nine days getting to and from work every year. Commuting alone by car not only sucks up time—it also takes a huge toll on Americans’ health, is one of the most miserable things to do in life, and generates substantial costs, both social and economic.
Commutes are clearly a function of where people live: People who live in big, dense cities like New York are much more likely to walk, bike, or take mass transit to work than those who live in more sprawling metro areas and need to drive. But a new analysis from the real-estate site Trulia identifies another key factor that bears on commutes: whether people rent or own their homes. The analysis is based on a Harris Poll survey of over 2,000 Americans as well as data from the 2014 American Community Survey.
Renters experience shorter commutes than homeowners in 43 out of America’s 50 largest metros, according to the analysis. On average, renters in large metros had daily commutes that were one-and-a-half minutes shorter than those of homeowners, as the chart below shows. Altogether, that means renters save more than a full workday (8.7 hours) on commuting each year.
The Average Length of Commute for Renters and Homeowners
Renters are also more likely to use public transportation and live closer to where they work. In fact, the report finds that shorter commute times or proximity to public transportation were the next most important criteria (behind crime rates) for Americans looking for a place to live. Among Millennial renters, commute times even topped crime rates.
While the average renter in 2014 benefited from a shorter commute, some metros did better than others. Renters had shorter commutes than homeowners in a majority of metros, including Washington, D.C., Dallas, Austin, Memphis, Newark, Cambridge, and Columbus. Renters with the shortest commute times compared to homeowners were located in Riverside-San Bernardino, Houston, and Long Island. Renters endured longer commutes than homeowners in San Francisco, Detroit, and Cleveland.
The difference in commute time between renters and homeowners also hinges on the types of people who tend to rent or buy. Renters tend to be younger and live in smaller homes, while homeowners tend to be older and live in bigger homes, since they are more likely to have families. To make an honest comparison between renting and owning homes, the report stresses the need to rule out factors like family size and housing size.
But even after controlling for family size or the number of bedrooms, renters still had shorter commutes than owners. Based on this, the report concludes that “large-household-renters may put a very high value on having a short commute, because after all, time spent in the car is time spent away from their family.” This is in line with a recent study, which found that affluent, high-skilled families are heading back to city centers or locating near transit, trading longer commutes for higher housing prices and smaller spaces in order to save time for friends, family, or leisure.
Commute Times by Home Size
Indeed, more and more Americans appear to be trading in large houses and cars for urban living to save precious time on their commutes—even when it means they have to rent.
16 Totally Doable DIY Projects That All Solve More Than One Problem
Because 2 > 1.
posted on Mar. 7, 2016, at 8:01 a.m.
3. These hanging folding chairs that double as storage when they’re not being used:
Your garage will thank you later. See more about this idea here.
4. This headboard that is actually a wardrobe:
Business in the front, sleepy in the back. Check out how it’s made here.
10. An outdoor table for the whole family to enjoy:
Because ain’t nobody got space for both. See how this table can be made by clicking here.
The U.S. Cities Winning the Battle Against Brain Drain
College-educated workers add considerably to local economies, but some places do much better at retaining them.
Over the past decade or so, cities and metros across the United States have greatly increased their efforts to retain college graduates. And for good reason. College grads are a key driver of innovation and economic development, and are closely connected to the wealth and affluence of cities and metros according to a large number of studies. But Americans are much more likely to move in their mid-to-late twenties, so it’s the metros that hang on to more of their college grads that stand to gain a long-run advantage.
There has been no shortage of speculation about which metros lead and lag in retaining college grads. But new data and research provided to us by Jonathan Rothwell at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program enables us to zoom in much more precisely on which metros are the winners and losers in retaining their college talent. (I recently wrote about Rothwell’s related research on the economic effects of college and universities.)
To get at this, Rothwell and his colleague Siddharth Kulkarni collected data on where college and university grads reside from LinkedIn’s alumni profiles, which list the most common urban locations of alumni. This data covers over 1,700 of the largest U.S. colleges and universities (721 two-year institutions and 984 four-year ones), which graduate approximately two-thirds of all students. With the help of my Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) team, I then mapped this data by metro. Metros in purple have the most alumni still living in the area, while metros in light blue have the least.
The map above gets us started by showing the share of graduates from all colleges and universities—both two- and four-year institutions—who remain in the metro where they went to school. Note the dark purple along the Boston-New York-Washington Corridor, in Northern and Southern California, in the Pacific Northwest, and in parts of the South and Midwest.
The table below shows the ten best and worst large metros for retaining college grads from all two- and four-year colleges and universities in Rothwell’s database.
Best and Worst Large U.S. Metros at Retaining College Grads (two- and four-year institutions)
|Best Large Metros||Retention Rate|
|Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||75.9%|
|New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA||74.2%|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA||73.2%|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||71.8%|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||70.9%|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||69.5%|
|Worst Large Metros||Retention Rate|
|Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||36.5%|
|Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT||40.4%|
|Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX||43.2%|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||44.1%|
|Salt Lake City, UT||44.6%|
|Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY||45.7%|
|New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA||46.4%|
The retention rates range from more than three-quarters of grads to less than forty percent. Perhaps surprisingly, the hard-hit Detroit metro area tops the list with a 77.7 percent retention rate. This high retention level is likely due to the fact that the University of Michigan is located nearby, while smaller colleges and universities like Wayne State and the University of Detroit Mercy, as well as community colleges, serve a more locally based group of students.
Houston is second with a 75.9 percent retention rate, New York is third with 74.2 percent, and Seattle and Atlanta round out the top five. Dallas, Portland, Riverside, Chicago, and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul complete the top ten.
At the other end of the scale, the metro with the lowest retention rate is Phoenix with 36.3 percent, followed closely by Providence. Hartford is third, and Austin—a leading tech hub—is fourth. Rochester, Virginia Beach, Salt Lake City, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh round out the ten metros with the lowest grad retention rates.
One might expect graduates from two-year colleges—mainly community colleges—to be more likely to remain in the metro where they went to school. The bigger question, then, is what happens to grads from four-year colleges and universities. The map below shows this pattern for metros across the nation.
Again note the dark purple across the Boston-New York-Washington Corridor, Northern and especially Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Southern Florida, parts of Texas, as well as pieces of the South, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain West.
The table below shows the top and bottom ten large metros for retaining grads from four-year colleges.
Best and Worst Large U.S. Metros at Retaining College Grads (four-year institutions)
|Best Large Metros||Retention Rate|
|New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA||71.1%|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||70.6%|
|Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||66.1%|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||65.2%|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA||64.2%|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||63.7%|
|Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN||63.0%|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA||62.9%|
|Worst Large Metros||Retention Rate|
|Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT||26.4%|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||31.6%|
|Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||31.9%|
|New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA||33.3%|
|Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY||35.8%|
|Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX||38.4%|
|Oklahoma City, OK||39.3%|
The pattern is somewhat similar to the one before it. This time, New York tops the list, followed by Riverside, Detroit, Houston, and San Jose, with Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Louisville, and L.A. rounding out the top ten. Large metros like these benefit from an array of employment opportunities, as well as large concentrations of young grads and other amenities. Indeed, Rothwell finds a moderately high correlation of 0.48 between retention rates and the size of the metro, measured by working age population.
On the flip side, the bottom ten metros include Phoenix (with a paltry 18 percent retention rate), Hartford, Virginia Beach, Providence, and New Orleans, with Rochester, Buffalo, Sacramento, Austin, and Oklahoma City completing the top ten. Baltimore (44 percent), Washington, D.C. (44 percent), and Pittsburgh (43 percent) also have modest retention rates. My own research was spurred by the outmigration of my former Carnegie Mellon students from Pittsburgh. But D.C.’s relatively low retention rate is something of a surprise given the economic dynamism of the region. Perhaps it is due to the region’s specialization in government-related work, which prompts graduates in other fields to move to other areas of the country.
But what about the most prestigious universities and colleges like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, and Columbia? How many of their students remain in the metros where they attended college?
Some of the lowest retention rates are for prestigious universities in small college towns. Just 7 percent of Cornell graduates stay in Ithaca. And just 16 percent of Duke graduates remain in the Durham-Chapel Hill area compared to 30 percent of all graduates from four-year institutions and 78 percent of two-year college graduates in the area.
Graduates from prestigious schools in New York are much more likely to stay in the region. More than half (53 percent) of Columbia University grads remain in the New York City metro. For NYU, the figure is 62 percent. The percentage is also higher for more locally oriented colleges and universities such as the Stevens Institute of Technology, which retains 64 percent of its grads, Manhattan College, which retains 71 percent, and the CUNY schools, with an average retention rate of 77 percent.
Outside of New York, however, it is far less likely for students from prestigious universities to stick around. Less than a quarter of Harvard graduates and only 27 percent of MIT grads end up in greater Boston, compared to roughly half of all graduates from four-year Boston area colleges. Just 36 percent of grads from both Georgetown University and the University of Chicago stay in their respective metros. And just 43 percent of Stanford grads stay in the San Jose metro. Meanwhile, graduates of more locally oriented universities in these metros are much more likely to stay in the region, including Lewis University in Chicago at 79 percent, and San Jose State at 72 percent. The reason is simple: Students at leading universities hail from all over the nation and the world, and are far more willing and able to look for employment, further education, or even go home to their families in more far-flung locations when they graduate.
This data paints a more complicated pattern of college retention than we are used to. For one, it is not just knowledge hubs and superstar cities like New York and L.A. that retain lots of grads. Places like Detroit, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta do, too. Moreover, it is not just older, more hard-hit Rustbelt metros that are losing their college grads. So are places like Austin, Providence, and fast-growing Phoenix.
Specifically, it is mostly small college towns with limited employment offerings that see the largest shares of their students move away. And of course, the most advantaged grads from the most prestigious universities have the highest rates of mobility. But perhaps the biggest takeaway is how many college grads in places like Detroit stay close to home. For all the talk of how mobile the young and the educated seem to be, in quite a few metros the bulk of college grads tend to stay where they went to school. This is good news for the economic future of these places.
*UPDATE (3/18): In response to this post, Rothwell and I received a number of good suggestions about how to deepen and refine our analysis in the future. Several pointed out that Phoenix is home to the University of Phoenix, with its large online student body, many of whom don’t live in the Phoenix metro. When Rothwell redid the numbers taking this into account, Phoenix’s retention rates improved to 56 percent for two- and four-year institutions and 41 percent for four-year institutions.
Others pointed out that Detroit’s retention rate benefits from two major state universities—the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Michigan State in East Lansing—which receive considerable attendance from the greater Detroit area. When Rothwell combined these three metros, the retention rates dropped to 57 percent for two- and four-year institutions and 41 percent for four-year institutions.
This data can be sliced and diced for individual metros in many different ways. Still, the overall thrust of this post remains: lots of students stay in the metro where they go to college.
Retiring? Don’t use a ‘best places to retire’ list to pick your new home
4 things to consider when choosing your next home
Americans love lists. We rank the most popular baby names, the top colleges and the best places to retire.
Lists are fun to read and could possibly come in handy. Maybe we’ll steer clear of popular names to give our child a unique moniker, or nudge him to top colleges for parental bragging rights.
But when it comes to something as individual as retirement, city and state rankings are a starting point at best, experts say. “If you move to a nice location but don’t know anyone, it can get lonely pretty quickly,” said Chris Chaney, a financial adviser at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
The truth is, most Americans stay put in retirement. Some 6% of those ages 55 to 59 moved between 2014 and 2015, according to U.S. Census Survey data, and of these movers just 5% relocated to a different region of the country; most remained in the same county. Among 65 to 69 year olds, just 4.5% moved during that year and of them, 10% moved to a different region.
“Obviously, a lot of people aren’t going to move in retirement at all,” said Claes Bell, senior analyst at Bankrate.com, which released a list of best states for retirement this week. Wyoming topped the list, while New York came in last. For those whose retirement dreams do cross state lines, these lists reinforce practical considerations amid what is often an emotional decision, Bell said.
If you’ve got wanderlust, here are some considerations to weigh.
No best-places list knows where your family lives. Yet the desire to be closer to relatives often drives the decision to relocate in retirement, financial advisers say. “Family considerations are very important,” Chaney said.
And that’s a perfectly healthy rationale, experts say. One of the biggest regrets that people often have at the end of life is they wished they had spent more time with family, said Steve Cole, professor of medicine at UCLA School of Medicine who has researched how loneliness can lead to illness. “In the grand scheme of things when you’re on your death bed, you’re not going to think, ‘I wish I didn’t pay New York so much in taxes,’” Cole said. (The Empire State often ranks low on best-places-to-retire lists because of its high tax burden and cost of living.)
While taxes often factor prominently into the methodology of best-places lists, they generally shouldn’t drive the decision of where to live in retirement, financial planners agree.
That said, would-be movers should at least consider the tax profile of states they’re considering. Some, such as Florida, have no state income tax; others like Pennsylvania exempt certain retirement income from their state income tax calculations. Some states have a state estate tax with a lower threshold than the federal level, while many states have no estate tax at all. Property taxes vary from region to region and don’t tell the whole story — for example, some coastal places in Florida might have relatively low property taxes but sky-high homeowner’s insurance costs.
Bankrate used data from the Tax Foundation on states’ overall tax burdens. While this is a helpful general gauge, experts say people’s individual taxes are highly dependent on their particular situation.
To the extent that people move for taxes, they’re often a deterrent rather than an attraction, planners say. Parents might have accepted high property taxes if that meant sending their children to excellent public schools, yet once the children are gone they’re eager to lower that bill by moving away.
Crime rates matter to most people, retirees included, but they’re highly localized. Some best-places lists use the FBI’s state-by-state data on crimes per 100,000 residents, but this isn’t a useful metric, experts say. “The use of crime as a state-wide criteria is wrong,” said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling’s BestPlaces, a compiler of rankings, including best cities for a healthy and more affordable retirement (Seattle topped the Aug. 2015 list). “In reality, the U.S. is a very safe place to live.”
Of course, many cities have dangerous neighborhoods to avoid. These are generally not areas that retirees with the means to move would even consider. Those interested in researching crime statistics in a particular neighborhood can ignore the statewide stats and contact the local police precinct for information.
Those truly concerned with crime could also consider a gated community, said Kenn Tacchino, a professor of taxation and financial planning at Widener University in Chester, Penn. and a MarketWatch RetireMentor columnist. “If crime is really an issue for you, there are workarounds,” he said.
Access to quality medical care is an important factor for most retirees, and here best-of lists can help direct people to relevant data. Some use the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s state rankings on a host of health measures for all ages, from vaccination rates in young children and adults over 65 to the timeliness of hospice referrals to the number of long-stay nursing home residents with a urinary tract infection.
Wyoming, which took top honors in Bankrate’s retirement list, scored only average marks on the agency’s health measures on a scale from “very weak” to “very strong.” The beautiful state boasts a low cost of living, but it’s sparsely populated. If you have poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes and the nearest endocrinologist is a long drive away, that’s going to be a drag.
On a more local level, the Milken Institute publishes a ranking of best cities for successful aging that includes criteria such as average wait times in emergency rooms and sufficient access to hospice, geriatric care and rehab facilities at hospitals.
Sometimes health needs drive people from their retirement destination back to where they came from. “It’s the broken-hip syndrome,” said Ron Weiner, president of RDM Financial Group, which has offices in Westport, Conn. and Boca Raton, Fla. Among Weiner’s clients, there have been a number of cases where an older adult in Florida has a health crisis and moves abruptly back north to be closer to family.
This kind of move can be costly, both emotionally and financially, Weiner said. Often times, families will give away most of their loved one’s belongings and, if the residence is owned, sell it on the cheap. It can be disorienting for the older person, too, to have an adult child pack up all her belongings and uproot her from her home.
While the possibility of a rough reverse migration shouldn’t deter people from moving to their dream destination in the first place, Weiner said, folks should at least look beyond their active years and consider what might happen when they become more frail and in need of more assistance.